Politics, Personal Branding and Ethics

Yesterday’s article in USA Today’s online app about the Presidential hopefuls meeting their fatal flaws head on, inspired me to really reflect on how personal branding relates so closely to this topic.  As I read how each candidate is tackling their character flaws and addressing them to the media before the media has a chance to give their own spin, I thought of two things:  classic persuasion and personal branding.  Let me explain.

First, to address your own flaws before others can attack you is a classic persuasive technique.  This is not to say that you should do this with every Joe you meet, but when writing or giving a persuasive speech, you first introduce your topic and then try to address the opposing view so that you have control over the opposite side.  In other words, you take their argument away.  Excellent strategy, and it usually works.  I use this when I train teachers on Virtues and Branding:  “I know that you already have too much on your plate and this is one more thing, but let me tell you how this will make your life easier.”

The next thought I went to, though, was the whole concept of personal branding.  The idea of personal branding goes far beyond how you market yourself in business.  It is how you are perceived moving through this world.  Typical leadership classes will tell you to set goals and then work to achieve them…however, how often does character fit into this life plan?  We often see people setting a goal like:  I want to be President.  Then they apply to the right schools, run for the right offices, schmooze the right people…but how many sit back and say, “How can I live my life with so much integrity that the American people will trust me?”  A personal brand should not be “politician”; it should be, “I am a person of integrity, excellence and trustworthiness.”   Show me that person, and they have my vote.  So, while I applaud the presidential hopefuls for using excellent persuasive strategy, I urge them to take a look at their character and live with integrity, and maybe they can forgo explain their character flaws, and instead focus on how they will lead our country.

Hilary Bilbrey is a leadership trainer, author and radio host from Central Wisconsin.  Before founding her own companies: Inspired By Family, LLC. and Trademark U, Inc., Hilary was an educator.  She holds degrees from University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire and Cambridge University, UK.  She has taught children in four different countries, at every age level, with over 30 different nationalities, in gifted, special needs and at-risk programs.  Hilary’s passion is helping teens and adults find the strength to live their truths and the courage to create positive change.

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